Audience Network upgrade shows advertisers Facebook means business

The new version mines Facebook's data to extend ad buys across mobile apps.

Facebook took another step toward catching up to Google this week when it launched an improved version of mobile ad network Audience Network. The wrinkle in the new rev: Audience Network now uses Facebook data to extend advertising buys across mobile apps.

Audience Network, available to advertisers worldwide, uses Facebook data such as biographical information, activity and interests to power third-party ads.

The enhancements will allow Facebook to compete head-on with Yahoo’s Flurry, Twitter’s MoPub and Google’s AdMob. Facebook’s ad revenue already increased an impressive 61 percent in the second quarter on the strength of its mobile ads. With more space for new types of ads, Facebook now has the flexibility to offer advertisers extremely targeted audiences.

In order to start running ads, developers simply need to install Facebook’s SDK. Advertisers who sign up can have their ads appear within mobile apps that allow users to sign in using their Facebook data. Ads can appear as banners, interstitial or native ads, and the network communicates messages from more than 1.5 million active advertisers.

The release follows last week’s re-launch of ad platform Atlas, which Facebook developed to help advertisers follow consumers from device to device. The back-to-back releases reflect Facebook’s commitment to grabbing a larger piece of the advertising pie.

Facebook users will have to get used to seeing more ads. According to a blog post by Facebook software engineer Tany Chen, however,  this challenge should be ameliorated by the fact that they are ads people will want to see.

Chen writes: "The Audience Network shows people the right ads by extending Facebook’s targeting to third-party apps. This means the ads match the interests of people, just as they do on Facebook. It also means people are more likely to engage with the ads."

Audience Network’s ability to target multiple apps means users don’t even have to be signed into Facebook to be engaged. Because of the targeted data, this will allow advertisers to get their ads in front of the right demographic more frequently

It’s really a case of one hand washing the other. By helping developers advertise better, Facebook increases the odds that ads are seen and clicked on. This allows Facebook to collect more useful user data, which allows it to offer advertisers a more effective product.

The new and improved ad network gives Facebook the best of two worlds. It creates lucrative new revenue streams while helping the company nurture its relationships with advertisers. The day is officially done when the newsfeed was the only way to reach people.

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